It's March 1942, three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to start World War II. Robert Matsui, his wife Rose, and twelve-year-old daughter Ann have moved from Bakersfield, California, to Middleton, Minnesota, during the two-month period when Japanese-Americans are allowed to voluntarily relocate from the west coast.
The Matsuis are refused a promised rental home by a bigoted landlord, but Joe and Fred Beck offer the family a vacant house on the Middleton Ridge near their residence. The reclusive brothers are under surveillance by the FBI as Nazis.
Twelve-year-old Mark Penn is playing war on the ridge when he happens upon the Matsuis, and sees Joe Beck give Mr. Matsui a Luger. Mark tells his pal Swede Larson, and they report their discovery to Police Chief Karl Morton, who is the local FBI liaison. Morton orders them to stay away from the Matsuis. The boys ignore him and soon become so enmeshed in the FBI's intrigue that their lives are endangered.
Mark is the batboy for the Middleton Aces. His best adult friend and former Aces' second baseman Red Collins is fighting the Japanese in the Pacific aboard the USS Yorktown. Mark is too young to join the real battle, but he hopes that he can aid the war effort by finding out who the Matsuis really are. He soon discovers that playing war can be a deadly game.
My take on this book:
This book starts us on our journey in the summer of 1942, its wartime in America and everyone is doing their part, including Mark Penn and his buddy Swede Larson. They buy war stamps with their spare money and participate in collecting scrap rubber for the war effort. Mark's mom even has a victory garden planted which Mark has to work in, everyone is very patriotic and doing what they can for the war effort, or so it seems.
While Swede is stuck each morning in summer school, Mark has taken to wandering the hills with his trusty Daisy Air Rifle playing war. While playing he sees a Japanese family living in an old house up on the ridge, he starts creeping around the house and sees that their 39 Ford has California license plates. Mark automatically thinks they either must be spies or they have escaped from camp because he knows President Roosevelt had ordered all Japanese on the west coast into internment camps as potential wartime enemies. He knows he has to get out of there and tell someone, but who ?
I love the way this story is written, you just know that this story could have happened in small town America during WWII. Mark and Swede have the typical problems of boys their age. Mark has girl trouble, his girlfriend has moved away, and Swede has just discovered that the opposite sex isn't so bad. Mark is bat boy for the Aces, and Swede's job on the team is to return foul balls and home runs to the field. For all the fun these two boys have tragedy hits home for them when one of their own is killed at war.
Labeled action/adventure this story has mystery, periods of suspense, young love, and history, a real page turner that holds your interest until the last sentence. If you love stories that take you back to the good old days, reminiscent of Mayberry or Tom Sawyer your going to love this book, and even though it is a second in a series it can easily be read alone. While geared toward pre-teens to young adults I found it quite enjoyable and hope the author continues to write more about these two adventuresome lads.
If you get a chance read the review for Bootleggers Secret here is the link,Bootleggers Secret,it is the first book in this series and is an amazing read as well!
Thanks to the author Michael Springer for sending me a copy of this book to review!